At last I can smile - I no longer have any mercury amalgam fillings. But this is nothing to do with vanity. Since my fillings have gone, my health has improved beyond all recognition.
Mercury - the only liquid metal known - is used in amalgam teeth fillings to bind other metals including tin, copper and silver together.
A powerful poison, mercury's effects on living things were documented 5000 years before Christ. In 1260, Bartholomew Anglicus wrote: `Mercury bredeth the palsey, quakynge and shakynge, softening of the sinews and is bad in the mouthe'.
By the mid 19th century published research showed how mercury' amalgam teeth fillings became miniature `batteries' with electrical activity conducted by saliva, acids, food and liquids. This was further confirmed in 1946 when electrical activity and leaking mercury from corroding fillings were pronounced `a hazard to human health.' (Science of Dental Materials, pub Skinners).
No amount of mercury is safe according to all the literature, studies and government pronouncements from countries outside the UK Apart from the Department of Health's recent and totally inadequate warning that pregnant women should avoid mercury amalgam fillings, our government remains aloof from the dangers. Other countries acknowledge mercury can be a contributory factor in a wide range of health problems including strokes, heart attacks and cancers.
The use of mercury in fillings should have stopped in the 1840s when it was banned by an emerging dentistry profession. But quacks continued using it to compete with licensed practitioners using gold. With money at stake, opposition to the use of mercury melted away.
Mercury, whose chemical symbol is Hg, gives off vapour at room temperature - virtually all the time. Vapour is the most dangerous kind of mercury. We breathe it in from fillings and we swallow droplets - shards, even - as fillings age and crack. Mercury binds to our body's cells, particularly in the joints, brain, heart, liver, kidneys and lungs.
And yet dentists continue to use it. Ostrich-like, possibly in fear of litigation, the British Dental Association (BDA) discounts all the evidence as inconclusive. But I have seen some of this mountain of toxicology papers, books and research which the BDA chooses to ignore.
This - combined with my own lifelong problems resulting from the effects of Hg in my body - led me to form Patients Against Mercury Amalgams (PAMA) to alert people to the dangers of black teeth fillings.
Like most of us, at birth I would already have been carrying Hg from my mother's own body burden, transmitted via the placental cord. Not yet five when my first amalgam fillings went in, I began to suffer from severe asthma, allergies and rhinitis to the extent that I became bed bound.
Regular childhood visits to the dentist meant more Hg was added.
In 1985, already with a mouthful of heavy fillings, root canal treatment to my large molars was considered necessary. This meant removing the nerves and filling the dead tooth with more mercury, while metal posts secured the white porcelain caps and gold mixture underneath.
Textbooks and science papers show that this combination of metals in the mouth causes oral galvanism. Hazardous to health, it encourages increased Hg leakage from other fillings.
By 1987 I was bed bound once again after a fourth gold cap was added at vast expense. Knowing what I do now, having the teeth extracted then going on a good holiday would have done me a lot more good.
My symptoms in the late 80s and early 90s were classic indicators of Hg poisoning. These were
- excessive salivation
- ulcerated gums
- metallic taste
- joint and limb pain
- stomach pain and indigestion
- shortness of breath and severe fatigue.
I couldn't drive, walk, sleep, see properly, eat without pain or pass a stool regularly.
There are almost 200 symptoms associated with mercury poisoning. They include mental illnesses, depression, heart and vascular problems, ear infections, ache, glandular and endocrine problems, infertility, MS, ME, Parkinson's disease, motor neurone disease, birth defects and others.
Seemingly innocuous things can affect people with mercury amalgam fillings. For Christmas 1993, my son bought me a. water filter. Ten days later I had a swollen face, tremendous salivation, shaking, quaking and the rest. Looking at the label, I noticed it said `extra silver for extra purity'.
Tests by dental specialist Jack Levenson showed I was a walking battery and my mouth nothing less than an environmental disaster area.
By May 1994 all the fillings had been removed. My recovery began immediately with some symptoms improving dramatically. With just one remaining cap in place, tissue samples from my jaws showed Hg levels nine times higher than they should be.
Stool samples also showed exceptionally high levels of Hg were released during chelation periods. Chelation is a process whereby, using oral therapies including vitamin C, chlorella, and selenium+zinc, Hg detaches itself from a body site where it has bonded.
It is no good removing the fillings without follow-up chelation, which must be done very slowly at first to avoid reactions as the Hg unbinds and travels freely around the bloodstream. While some slight chelation must be done before the fillings are removed and on the day itself, further chelation shouldn't take place prior to removal because, that way, Hg would leave the teeth in greater quantities.
Treatment by specially trained dentists is vital - people have been put in wheelchairs, made bedridden and generally very ill by unsafe removal. Patients need to be protected from spraying water during drilling. An oral dam prevents a patient swallowing mercury as it is drilled out and an oxygen mask keeps out Hg vapour.
In most cases removal takes two to five sessions of about two hours each. White composite fillings are safe and strong if the dentist is trained to insert them properly and PAMA can supply a list of Hg-free dentists nationwide.
Mercury on the menu
The life of a mercury filling can be short. Within weeks it begins to creep, crack and corrode at its edges from acids, chewing, and hot and cold liquids. As more bacteria cause more decay a larger filling is inserted.
It pays to consider what we put into our mouths - organic food is best since it contains no toxic chemicals used in crop spraying. All food takes up minerals and metals from the soil and we are biologically equipped to deal with that, but not the added burden of mercury amalgam teeth fillings.
Hg is part of most fungicides, insecticides and bactericides used on farms. Many cases of mercury poisoning cite farm workers being Hg poisoned and the same goes for fishermen if mercury has leaked into the food chain from an industrial spill. Such an incident in Japan became known as Minnemata Disease after an entire village was affected and people started staggering around after a factory leak. Here's a check list:
- Avoid fish, especially crustaceans, which can be contaminated by mercury.
- Fruit and fruit juices are acidic and react with dental metals encouraging chemical corrosion of metal fillings. Clean your teeth after eating.
- Be wary of water filter systems which use silver and metals to `purify' the water. Choose an osmotic process connected to the main water supply.
- Avoid tinned foods and food cartons with metallic inner linings.
- Alcohol is corrosive and has immune system weakening effects.
- Hot and cold food causes metallic fillings to expand and contract. Hot food causes mercury to leak more; cold food and drink contracts the filling away from the tooth edges. All mercury fillings crack and disintegrate.
- Avoid breast-feeding if you have black metal fillings - 60% contain mercury which is constantly leaking and will pass directly into the baby.
- Count the fillings and caps in your mouth. Then look at your children who will already have mercury in them. Don't add more. Insist on white fillings but, better still, prevent tooth decay by teaching children to brush their teeth at least twice a day and make sure they use dental floss every night.
Article copyright Market Link Publishing.
By Angela Kilmartin